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What are the insurance requirements for Michigan motorcycle owners?

June 18, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

SMARTER motorcycle safety group newsletter includes insurance advice from Michigan Auto Law attorney

Dan Petterson is a motorcycle safety advocate. SMARTER is a motorcycle safety group, and it stands for Skilled Motorcyclist Association — Responsible, Trained and Educated Riders, Inc. In the past issue of the SMARTER newsletter, I was asked if I could give legal advice on what types of insurance motorcycle owners and operators should now have after the Michigan helmet repeal became law.

Here’s the May/June 2012 SMARTER newsletter. It has a lot of good motorcycle accident and fatality statistics and safe gear advice.

Dan and his group asked a question that we are hearing a lot these days: What are the insurance requirements for Michigan motorcyclists?

Here’s our advice from the latest issue:

UP UNTIL THE REPEAL OF THE ALL-RIDER HELMET LAW (PUBLIC ACT 98 OF 2012), THE MOTORCYCLE accident attorneys of Michigan Auto Law had been telling their clients that the only insurance required for a motorcyclist in Michigan, according to the no-fault law, was basic liability coverage, of at least the minimum liability, for a third-party personal-injury suit.

Now the answer to the question “What are the insurance requirements for Michigan motorcyclists?” depends on how the motorcyclist answers the question “How responsible of a motorcyclist am I?” (See the article on page 5 to make a self determination of how close you come to being an absolutely responsible rider.)

There is an additional requirement for motorcycle operators and passengers who abdicate their personal responsibility and choose to ride without a helmet. They may do so only if they have insurance for the first-party medical benefits payable in the event they are involved in a motorcycle accident. A motorcycle operator without a passenger must have security in an amount not less than $20,000; with a passenger, not less than $20,000 per person per occurrence ($40,000); however, if the passenger has his or her own insurance in an amount not less than $20,000, then the operator is only required to have at least the minimum security of $20,000.

A first-party claim is between the motorcycle-accident victim and his insurance company for no-fault benefits, also called personal injury protection (PIP) benefits. If a motorcycle rider was involved in an accident with a car or truck, he or she will qualify for Michigan nofault benefits. The allocation of fault for the motorcycle crash does not affect recovery of no-fault benefits. In other words, even if motorcycle operators were found totally responsible for the accident that caused their injuries, and therefore they were completely barred from recovery of any pain and suffering damages, they would still be entitled to nofault insurance benefits.

These benefits include medical expenses related to the accident; wage loss for the first three years following the accident; household replacement services.

Keep in mind that the $20,000 in PIP medical coverage required if you choose to ride without a helmet only applies when motorcycles are in single-motorcycle accidents that do not involve another vehicle. If a motorcyclist is injured in an accident involving a car or truck, he or she will be entitled to collect no-fault PIP benefits pursuant to the nofault priority rules even if there is no contact between the motorcycle and the car or truck, so long as the car or truck “actively, as opposed to passively, contribute[d] to the accident.” (Turner v Auto Club Insurance Association, 448 Mich 22 [1995]).

This is very important, because under Michigan no-fault, PIP claims from motorcycle accidents between a motorcycle and a car or a truck will allow an injured motorcycle rider to collect his or her no-fault insurance benefits from the insurer of the vehicle that the motorcycle was involved in the accident with.

(Note: Changes in the Michigan nofault law are currently under consideration by the Michigan Legislature.)

Optional Coverage
A motorcycle owner can still purchase additional optional contractual insurances, such as optional no-fault coverage, which includes medical benefits and wage loss. There are few motorcycle owners who purchase this coverage in Michigan. Keep in mind this is not the same coverage provided by regular auto no-fault (PIP) insurance. A motorcycle owner can also purchase other insurance, such as uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) provide a valuable source of legal recovery when someone is injured in an auto accident by another driver who is uninsured or does not have adequate insurance. Without a UM or UIM policy, a driver or passengers injured by an uninsured or underinsured motorist will have no source of legal recovery other than filing a lawsuit against the at-fault driver for his personal assets. The Michigan Auto Law motorcycle accident attorneys strongly recommend motorcyclists contact their insurance agent to purchase these additional coverages.

– Steven M. Gursten is an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. Steve is head of Michigan Auto Law, and he has received the highest motorcycle injury settlement in the state, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly tabulations of all yearly injury settlements. He has appeared in the media on motorcycle safety issues, motorcycle crashes, and about the motorcycle helmet law repeal. Steve is available for comment.

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by Philo Nordlund

Related information to protect yourself:

What motorcycle insurance is required now that Michigan passed the helmet repeal?

Michigan motorcycle accident law FAQs

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our Michigan motorcycle accident lawyers.

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